Croydon where a well-known pianist was born

As a piano tuner when I travel around the city I enjoy looking at places and link them to music history. When I worked in Croydon I got interested and soon discovered that one of today’s most successful pianist, Freddy Kempf was born here.

He took up piano at the age of four and just a few years later he made his concerto debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of eight. In 2001 Kemp was voted Best Young British Classical Performer in the Classical BRIT Awards.

Although Kempf is a British pianist, he comes from a cosmopolitan background as he was born to a German father and a Japanese mother and his grandfather was the great German pianist Wilhelm Kempf. Now he lives in Berlin and continues performing to sell-out audiences all over the world. In 2006 and 2011 he made solo engagements at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Hope you enjoyed this post, if you like to talk to me personally or have any specific piano related queries please make contact using the details on the website.

The top 5 piano brands

When tuning or repairing a piano I often get asked who are the best piano makers. Well, since Bartolomeo Cristofori invented the modern piano there have been hundreds of piano makers in the world but only a few have the quality and history to stand out.

In essence you can recongnise the best piano makers by their timeless instruments that produce unrivalled sound, power, tone and range.

Andy tuning a piano

So what is the best piano brand? That’s very subjective, however below there is a list of the 5 most recognised leading piano brands in the world.

STEINWAY & SONS

American product. Right now undoubtedly this is the leading brand and the most preferred choice of the performing artists.

MASON AND HAMLIN

American product. With a focus solely on quality and not quantity they produce only 50 upright and 300 grand pianos a year.

YAMAHA

Japanese product. One of the most consistent brands that has been recognised for their longevity and quality that lasts years .

BÖSENDORFER

Austrian product. They make only a few hundred pianos a year and each one of them is handmade. The grand pianos are specifically remarkable.

BALDWIN

American product. Famous for its rich sound and dynamic range.

Over the years each brand name has created a reputation for themselves and you can definitely trust them. Nevertheless it is always good considering something different as there is a variety of brands that may suit your need better and more affordable. I sincerely hope this list will help you find the right instrument for you.

Source:

http://pianobrands.info

History of piano – interesting facts

Let’s have a look at the history of the piano as the popularity of the piano throughout history has lead to many taking piano classes to learn this historical art.

The modern piano was invented by Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655–1731) of Padua. Cristofori’s new instrument was known first as the pianoforte because it allowed players to produce notes at different dynamic levels by controlling the inertia with which the hammers hit the strings.

The word pianoforte, shortened later to piano, appeared only in 1732.

the piano underwent tremendous  inventions and  improvements in its construction throughout the years.

Later it was the Americans who brought the once expensive piano to the homes of middle-class families. The cost of pianos was significantly reduced, thanks to new assembly-line techniques and standardized piano parts. By the end of the 19th century, the instrument was a must-have for every household. It was very easy to store the piano at home, as a result of the functional upright design.

The piano than became very popular among women, who were encouraged to learn to play the piano. A woman who could play the piano was perceived as a refined woman and would find marriage in a flash. It was also a great way for women to earn money through piano lessons.

In modern times the digital piano sells more than the grand piano by far. Several factors contribute to this including the higher cost of grand pianos, the portability of digital pianos, and the presence of so many voices and features in digital pianos. However, one thing is for sure and it’s that piano playing and piano music is not going away. The piano is one of the most popular instruments today along with the guitar.

Please browse the website to see the full range of services AMH Pianos can provide. As a company we additionally cover all aspects of piano services ranging from piano tuning to piano repairs and removals. Additional helpful advice is also available on our FAQs page. If you have any specific piano related queries and would like to talk to me personally please make contact using the details found on the website.

Sources:

https://www.piano-tuners.org/

http://www.piano-keyboard-guide.com/piano-history.html

Street Pianos in London

When I travel around the city I enjoy coming across interesting things, whilst Tuning a Piano in Herne Hill, I came across a Street Piano at the Herne Hill Station.

I got interested in the concept, finding out there are lots of Pianos still across the city. 

Originally Play Me, I’m Yours is an artwork by UK artist Luke Jerram, which has been touring internationally since 2008.  More than 1500 pianos have now been installed in over 50 cities across the globe, from New York to London bearing the simple invitation Play Me, I’m Yours.  



In 2012 the City of London Festival celebrated its golden anniversary on a grand scale, presenting Play Me, I’m Yours with 50 golden street pianos spread across London landmarks and beauty spots. 


In cities like London, hundreds of perfectly good, working, second-hand pianos get thrown away each year. Luke Jerram transports dozens of these pianos annually, to countries where the instrument is rare and more valued, for the public to enjoy.


Most of these pianos were donated to good causes at the end of the presentation, but some of them are still available to play including three at St Pancras International Station, two at Canary Wharf and one at Herne Hill Railway Station.  


The piano I came across is located in the underpass next to Herne Hill Railway Station just off Railton Road. It is currently being looked after by local residents.  The piano is locked at night so is only playable during the daytime.

Piano Tuning – Who’s pulling your strings

I sometimes find the conversations I have with clients really interesting especially when it comes to Piano Tuning. The customer will call me up and ask “How much is it to get my Piano Tuned”? like most things in life the answer is not so straight forward. It really depends I reply,
– When was the Piano last Tuned?
– How old is the Piano?
– Has the Piano been moved recently?
– Is the Piano serviced on a regular basis?
– Do you play the Piano alongside other instruments?

These points need to be considered, as mentioned there can be lots of different forms of Piano Tuning. If a Piano is not tuned regularly, at least once a year, the pitch of the Piano can drop, which means the Piano will need a pitch move, or a double tuning. This is also important, when the Piano is being used with other instruments, as they are tuned to concert standard pitch A440.

The client can also say, “the piano hasn’t been used much”, which makes them think, there is less work to get their Piano back in tune. Piano Tuning is only one aspect of Piano Servicing, within a Piano there are hundreds of moving parts which enable the Piano to function. Should there be issues with Keys not working and or playing correctly, this is not Piano Tuning. The Action within the Piano may need Regulating, this is finely regulating the moving part of the action within the Piano making sure the keys play and the hammers respond, and create feeling. When playing the instrument. These aspects are separate to each other, which means, Piano Tuning and Piano Repairs are two separate things and need to be considered when calling a professional Piano Technician.

What customers say about AMH Pianos

As a qualified piano tuner I look after pianos for pianists at all levels, from beginners to seasoned musicians on a daily bases. I also tune for recording studios and theatrical music companies, music teachers, professional artists and basically going anywhere the music takes me.

During my work I ensure that I provide professional and excellent customer service so that my clients receive the utmost satisfaction for any individually tailored job. Nevertheless I am always proud when receiving positive feedback from happy and satisfied customers.

Below you will find what our customers say about AMH Pianos:

“Andy is a very friendly guy and is Very Prompt. Excellent service at competitive rates.” Gerry Flynn


“Punctual & Professional service. I was very happy with the work carried out on my old piano at what I would consider at a very reasonable price. Andy was such a pleasure to do business with and comes highly recommended. 5 stars.” George Ramos


Great, Very friendly service. Has breathed new life into my old piano, wish I hadn’t waited so long. Recommend highly!” Derrick Baker


“On behalf of my wife Joan and myself I wish to thank you for carrying out today’s piano tuning at our home in such a friendly and professional manner. It was a real pleasure to meet you and we shall certainly forward your details to our friends.” Malcolm


“Many thanks Andy. Much appreciate you doing this at short notice. It was used this afternoon and the pianist remarked on how well it had been tuned. As you kindly helped us at the eleventh hour, we will continue to use your services.” Gary


“Friendly and professional, very good job done at short notice. The piano sounds wonderful, many thanks Andy, will certainly call on you again.” Jonathan Wheatley


Please browse the website to see the full range of services AMH Pianos can provide.As a company we additionally cover all aspects of piano services ranging from piano tuning to piano repairs and removals. Additional helpful advice is also available on our FAQs page. If you have any specific piano related queries and would like to talk to me personally please make contact using the details found on the website.

Camden Town – the center of piano building

As a piano tuner whilst travelling around London doing my work, I really like looking into the history of music so let me share with you what I know about Camden and its past. Did you know for example that it was once the heart of piano building?

The piano was first demonstrated not anywhere else but here in London by Charles Dibden, who lived in Camden Town and is buried in the churchyard between Bayham Street and Camden Street. Strangely enough the piano industry should later have grown up in his own back yard.

At that time Camden Town was a very suitable centre for piano manufacture and the Regent’s Canal could be used for transporting heavy and bulky goods like pianos cheaply. Camden Town was also near the rail-heads of King’s Cross, Euston and St Pancras, so transport conditions by water and rail were ideal. Soon the area became a centre of the piano industry.

In the golden days besides manufacturers there were small-part makers, such as french polishers, makers of piano castors, piano stool makers, piano movers, piano tuners and of course salesmen. All of them earned their living in and around Camden Town and long the Canal.

Sadly in the 1900s German competition became very tough and by 1912, German exports of pianos and piano parts were sixty-five times as large as Great Britain’s. Germany dominated the piano industry rather as Japan was to dominate the electronics industry after the Second World War.

In the 1960s, the Koreans had begun to make pianos and started using modern machining accuracy. They were machining parts to 3 microns, so that every part fitted first time and the skill and time of the fitter were no longer required as pianos could be assembled, not fitted. The drop in production costs was enormous. Soon even the Royal Academy of Music began buying Korean pianos.

Should You Buy a New or Second Hand Piano?

If you’re thinking of buying a piano, the main question is whether to buy a brand new one or a used one. This is a very personal decision after all.  However purchasing the right piano for yourself or for your family can create a lifetime of enjoyment

In this blog post I would like to mention a few points to consider when buying a new, used, or restored piano. First of all purchase a piano you can afford and is appropriate for your needs. You want an instrument that will play properly and compliment your home’s décor.

Buying a second-hand piano
Buying a second-hand piano

Most used pianos are less expensive than most new ones. However a new piano has a full warranty and all the benefits of a new item (glossy, shiny case etc.). A pre owned piano usually doesn’t have a warranty, although some dealers will give a limited and short-time warranty. When buying an instrument you need to select a piano that has the key touch and musical tone that you like and then it will have to be tuned when it arrives at your home.

The most important thing however is to contact a Registered Piano Technician (RPT) to look at a piano before you buy it and make sure that it is worth the cost and it is playable.

Things to consider when buying a second–hand Piano

Whether you are looking for an upright or a grand piano the basic rules remain the same when choosing a Piano. One must consider, both the size and the cost of the instrument to fit ones budget and the room where you wish to house the Piano.

Generally, a larger piano with longer strings will create a much better depth of sound. Smaller instruments both Grand & upright Pianos will produce a lesser quality of sound, due to the speaking length of the strings.

When considering a modern instrument, they are constructed with the bass strings overstrung  which means that the bass strings run diagonally across the piano crossing over the treble string,  this enables the Bass strings to be longer thus giving a longer speaking lent and better quality of sound.

Andy tuning a piano
Buying a second hand piano

 

An older instrument may not have this stringing arrangement, and are generally known as straightstrung Bass section, which means that the strings run parallel to each other which lesser the length of the Bass strings offering a far less quality and depth of sound. Modern upright pianos are underdamped which means that the dampers are located beneath the hammer head, this setup is much more effective than overdamped Pianos.

If you look in the top of a upright piano in an overdamper action, the hammers are below. The dampers, thus giving rise to the name overdamped.

Generally, this kind of piano should be avoided, due to it’s age and performance – response when playing, they could also be very tough to tune or keep their tuning.

On the other hand, a very good quality overdamped upright piano could make a wonderful addition to your home, but I would suggest to get it assessed by an expert first before buying.

If you find an instrument that you like, we suggest that you look over the piano externally, play it and then look inside. The following points should help you decide whether an instrument is worth buying.

  • Check the casework and appearance of the piano for damage, dose the colour of the piano suits your home.
  • Check each key to see if they are level and evenly spaced?
  • Play each key rapidly, to see if they are responding well and not sticking.
  • Check to see if the sound of the piano is Similar across the whole keyboard? Did any notes stand out louder/softer than others.
  • Check the piano for any buzzing, squeaks, of knocking sounds.
  • Check each peddle to see if they are working, without making unwanted noises
  • Always make sure to look inside the piano:
  • Check to see if the action looks intact without missing parts.
  • Check for any damage to both the action and strings, look along the line of strings to see if there are any missing or broken.
  • When considering buying a piano, please make sure you check the instrument, or even better take a qualified piano tuner with you.

The map shows the areas we support throughout London.

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Top Three Tips To Keep Your Piano Tuned

Having a piano is rewarding but it is not without its work. After all, what is the point of having such a beautiful instrument if you don’t keep it in good shape? Tuning a piano is essential to its sound, so the best idea is to keep it well-maintained to make this process simpler for all involved. To make sure you get the best out of your piano, here are three fantastic tips to keep your piano tuned and healthy.

 

Street Piano London
courtesy: streetpianos.com

 

Tip One: Placement

The first and most important thing you should do is make sure your piano is situated appropriately. If you are keeping your piano in an exposed, humid room then you are going to see a problem much quicker. It might seem obvious but it is surprising how many people do not think about environmental factors when considering their piano tuning woes!

Humidity is not the only problem to consider. Putting your piano in direct sunlight might make it lose its tune quicker because the drying wood can cause the tuning pins to warp. Tuning a piano with this kind of damage can be difficult or even impossible if the damage is severe enough. Even if this doesn’t happen, there is the possibility that you might ruin the finish of your piano.

Tip Two: Keep it clean

Another simple practice that can be overlooked in our busy lives. To keep the piano in top condition and avoid any unnecessary damage, it’s best to get into the habits of cleaning your piano regularly right from the start.

The trick is to clean it briefly after each use, especially if you are teaching young children on the instrument. If you wipe it down each time, the job becomes much easier in the long run. This goes for keeping things on the piano too: though it might be tempting to put all sorts of nick-knacks on the piano, make sure you don’t keep anything on it that might leak water and cause damage that way as it will make piano tuning much harder.

Tip Three: Tune it professionally

If you own a piano you already know that it’s important to get an expert to look at it once in a while, but did you know that the recommended time period between calling a piano tuner is just six months?

Playing a piano regularly will cause it to go out of tune, but so will letting it sit there untouched. There is no avoiding tuning the piano, and it is not always easy to tell how out of tune it may have become since you last had it checked. After all, it loses its tune gradually, and to an untrained ear it is not easy to hear.

A professional piano tuner will be able to help you with this. Speak to your local music shop or look online, and you will find professionals who will keep your piano in its best shape for good.